WHAT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING YOU KNOW ABOUT HORSES?

Van Camp (A Man Called Raven, 1997, etc.) explains to readers how, on the day it was “so cold the snow is holding its breath,” he impishly posed a single question to friends and family: “What’s the most beautiful thing you know about horses?” Their answers form the basis for a meandering text that reveals the secrets of horses, and of people as well. Horses, the narrator finds, have freckles and cool hair and soft breath. When they run, “they seem to flow over the land . . . to compete with the wind.” They can run sideways, and, like dogs, always know their way home. Respect for all living things is a connecting thread that runs throughout. Littlechild, who was also asked about horses, rolls out all the colors in the paintbox in a happy mix of startling, wide-awake stripes on horses, dogs, and faces. All of it radiates innocence, with shapes and colors that imitate the expressive, uninhibited strokes of children’s art. The starting point for Van Camp’s investigation is outwardly arbitrary, but the result is personal and fun. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-89239-154-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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